Glory Due

"Why are you downcast, O my soul?" 

I awoke this morning in a fog of discouragement. Thanks to a slew of influences in the hands of God accompanied by prayers of friends, slowly and steadily over the course of the day, my soul found encouragement in the Lord. 

But the exclamation on that restoration was tonight's Black Sacred Music Symposium, led by the inimitable Dr. Ollie Watts Davis - surely one of the greatest gems at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. One cannot help but absorb the joy of the Lord when in the presence of that woman. What she has poured into the Black Chorus at Illinois for 40 years is remarkable; her achievement and accolades prolific. 

And yet, as one of tonight's many songs concluded - "Glory Due" - and the audience erupted in applause, she raised her hand inconspicuously from the side aisle, mouthing the refrain "The Glory Due His name", the words breathed into the lungs of her pupils as they echoed back. It was clear - she wanted the glory not, but to point to Christ the exalted one who has bestowed a bountiful measure of grace upon her and this choir. 

I can too easily, a fragile, sensitive man be pulled down by minor disappointment, but here I witnessed - as a timely gift of grace - the defiant jubilation of the Black Sacred Music tradition. The music rebels against the tyranny of the world's oppression and looks up at the merciful Savior on the cross who experienced and triumphed upon every suffering imaginable. Where you there when they crucified ma Lord? Precious Lord, take my hand. Thank you, Thank you, Jesus. Great is Thy Faithfulness. I believe in Miracles. Glory Due. There is a Balm in Gilead... and many more. Some well worn songs, and some newly crafted ones. 

It was a privilege to be present and be lifted up, to remember the story I inhabit, to exult in Christ - even that in a building owned by a public university campus no less. Music fades, and performance can leave us questioning the fleeting enthusiasm, but sometimes you need music like this to point you beyond yourself to the Real. And that is the gift of their music and tonight the gift for me was real. That I know for certain. Grateful to have been a witness and worshipping participant.


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